The Next Step

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(From a 2006 DVD review.)

“The Next Step” is about a rare creature known as the Heterosexual Male Broadway Dancer. The HMBD is rarely seen in nature, so if you happen to stumble across one, take a picture!

The HMBD in question in this ridiculously padded, poorly acted backstage melodrama is Nick (Rick Negron), a talented dancer, unrepentant womanizer and first-class jerk who still has the moves but whose graying temples are a reminder that you can’t dance forever. He wants to dance forever, though, as indicated in this line, which he utters passionately after someone asks him what he wants to do: “I want to dance. Forever.” See?

Nick has a longtime physical-therapist girlfriend named Amy (Kristin Moreu), but that doesn’t stop him from boinking Heidi (Denise Faye), a fellow dancer in the Broadway show “Speakeasy: The Musical.” Amy wants to get married, and she’s just received a job offer in Connecticut. Nick wants to keep sleeping around behind Amy’s back (Heidi is just one of his lady friends in this film) and stay in New York. And thus a conflict is born.

With “Speakeasy” about to close, Nick goes out in search of another show. Minor back pain hobbles him a bit, and the director of a show called “Gangland” — think “West Side Story,” but without having to pay royalties — won’t cast him in the lead because at 35-ish, he’s just too old.

That tiny sliver of a plot — Nick wants to dance and sleep around; he has to make concessions and realize those things may not be options anymore — would occupy maybe 60 minutes of screen time in a normal film. But “The Next Step,” written by Aaron Reed and directed by Christian Faber, is not a normal film. It’s a Dance Movie! That means it has dancing, lots and lots of dancing, dancing every few minutes, dancing in every scene. Just when the story’s starting to go somewhere, pow! There’s another dance scene to slow it down again.

The dancing is quite good, I’ll give it that, and there is probably an audience that will enjoy it just for that reason. (That audience: dancers.) And as actors, the leads … are all really good dancers. The lines are bad enough, and the actors’ self-serious, overblown delivery of them is often laugh-out-loud funny. You hate to mock something as earnest as this, but what can you do?

D (1 hr., 36 min.; Not Rated, probably R for some strong sexuality, some nudity, a lot of harsh profanity.)

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